Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that the “compromise deal” between Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and Senate President Tito Sotto is “grossly insufficient.” KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano says that “the adjustments might be ‘better than nothing,‘ but the new proposals still threaten the local pork industry, as support for the boosting of local hog and food production remains meager.”
The deal made between the President’s economic cluster and lawmakers put the increased minimum access volume (MAV) on pork at 254,000 metric tons, almost halving the original proposal of 404,000 MT. It also put the lowered out-quota tariffs to 20 percent and in-quota to 10 percent, amounting to a 5 percent increase from the first proposed 15 and 5 percent, respectively. “That Duterte’s neoliberal economists budged at all after intense and unrelenting public pressure is a victory of the people,” Mariano comments.
“The compromise’s real aim is to dampen public pressure to advance the interests of importers and foreign big business.”
The peasant leader emphasized that the new proposals amount to “a still unprecedented 370% MAV increase, and the slashing of current import duties by more than half which will still cause billions of revenue losses for the government.” “This deal is far from satisfying. We maintain our demand that local hog and food producers must be aggressively supported by the Department of Agriculture – that is the department’s main mandate! Instead of facilitating the flood of imports and offering risky loans, the government should heavily invest in local food production.”
Mariano notes that increasing government spending on local food and agricultural production can generate more pertinent and stable jobs, in light of the recent announcement that 3.44 million Filipinos are jobless.
The former agrarian reform Secretary also slammed the statement by Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) President Jesus Cham that the lowered tariffs should be implemented until 2025. “The suggestion reeks of shameless, unbridled greed. It suggests taking advantage of the people’s hunger and the bankruptcy of Filipino food producers to rake in bigger profits from imports.” #